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13 Ways to Save Money on Birthday Parties

A couple weeks ago, the contributors of the Reno Moms Blog were discussing birthday parties.  Birthday parties can be expensive!  And if your house is small, you can find yourself seriously limited in what you can do in your own home.  Pile a winter birthday on top of a small house and you may find yourself wondering how you’ll ever be able to throw an incredible party on a budget.  Not to worry, though, I’ve got you covered with some ideas.

I have a handful of tips below.  Using these tips, I am able to stay within our family budget of $100 per birthday party, which I think is a very reasonable amount and is more than enough to throw a great party!

General Tips

1.  Have the party in between meal times.  If you’re having a party on the weekend, for instance, 3:00 pm is a great time as your guests will have already eaten lunch, not yet be ready for dinner, and nap time is over for most families.  By avoiding typical lunch and dinner times, you can just serve light snacks and appetizers instead of a meal.

2.  Make your own cake or let a friend make it for you in lieu of a birthday gift.  If you aren’t a pro-baker, boxed cakes are simple and inexpensive, and cupcakes are a great and easy option, too.

3.  Prepare your own food.  Don’t have your food catered.  Instead, prepare simple foods at home.

4.  Don’t invite everyone.  Just because you know someone who also has a three-year-old doesn’t mean you should invite them.  Does your child/family regularly hang out with each of the guests on the list or are they family?  If not, cross them off.  It’s your party, not theirs, so don’t feel bad about not inviting everyone you know.

FairyParty5.  Utilize the Dollar Store.  The Dollar Store is a great place to buy party hats, colored tablecloths, silverware, plates, napkins, and cups.

6.  Share a party between two children with close birthdays.  I say this with caution, though.  Me, my dad, and my daughter Zoe all share a birthday exactly 23 years apart.  Growing up, there would be years where my dad got to choose the cake or what we did.  I think I’m still recovering, and I’m now overly ridiculous about making sure Zoe’s birthday party is super special for her.  Be sensitive to make sure each child feels special during their party.  Perhaps two different cakes with their own song?  Just something to consider if you go this route.

If having a party in your home is an option:

7.  Get crafty.  Hit Pinterest for some great ideas on how to easily decorate your home!

8.  Double an activity as a party favor.  For my four-year-old’s fairy party last year, we bought bird houses at Michael’s for $1.  We then painted them as “fairy houses” for an activity, and sent them home with the kids as part of their party favor.

If having a party in your home is NOT an option:

9.  If your house is too small but you want to have it in a home setting, see if a friend or grandparent is willing to host.  I’ve been to a number of parties held at relative’s homes.  Just be sure to help them clean up afterwards, too!

10.  See if you can just “show up” at a fun place as opposed to renting one.  High Ballocity at Wild Island is a great option for this, though I will caution you that it works best on week nights (weekends are nuts, and often most of the tables are reserved).  Although they encourage you to reserve your spot (this costs money), you can just show up and grab an unreserved table for free.  This will save you lots of money.  Chuck-E-Cheese’s is another place where you can do that, too.

11.  Check for age limits.  Some places offer free entry for younger children.  High Ballocity, for example, currently lets children ages 3 and under in for FREE!  This means that if you are having a party with all three-year-olds, you can do your party for almost free!  Jump Man Jump also lets children ages 1 and under in free.

12.  Ask about party specials.  Some places will offer free food if you book for a certain length of time (like the bowling garages at Wild Island, for instance).  Other times, you may be able to get discounts if you have a certain amount of people.

13.  Call around to your child’s favorite places to play.  Some fun ideas mentioned by our contributors were swim parties at Alf Sorensen Community Center in Sparks (around $79 for the room and you can bring in your own pizza), High Ballocity at Wild Island (free if you don’t reserve the table, three-year-olds are free, and discounted wristbands when you buy 10+), and Chuck-E-Cheese’s.  Places like parks are another great option, but just know that many parks require you to buy a permit (which costs money) if you’re going to use their group picnic areas (but you could always just plop out a few blankets on the grass instead…teddy bear picnic theme?).

If you’re still doubting whether you can actually put together a super fun and creative party on less than $100, go read through this post I did last year on our fairy party.  I broke every item and expense down to the penny to show you that it can be done!  Pinterest is a great help, and if you aren’t a super-crafty person, you may have friends who enjoy crafty projects and want to help you out!

What are your birthday party money-saving tips?  Any favorite party places to take your winter-birthday babies on a budget?  

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About Jessica Locke

Jessica Locke
Jessica Locke is a wife and stay-at-home mom of four children ages 5 and under. She is a new homeschooling mom who swore she’d NEVER ever even possibly consider homeschooling her children. She loves finding creative ways to stretch her small budget, drinking chai, writing, and eating anything with a peanut butter and chocolate combination. You can check out her latest thoughts on life as a mom, creative tutorials, activities for kids, and easy recipes on her blog, “Mothering With Creativity.”

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